INTERVIEW: Bill Payne: “It All Boils Down to Complete Freedom”

June 17th, 2013, 12:00 pm by Greg

Interview and story by Don Wilcock

“It took me 63 years to find my voice, quote, unquote, with regard to myself, not within a band,” says Bill Payne, the founding keyboardist of Little Feat, the enduring American band with a 40-plus year legacy. They performed at The Egg in early January, but on Tuesday (June 18), Payne returns as a solo act to WAMC-FM’s The Linda in Albany.

“I didn’t do any solo shows until a year ago,” he says. At that time he had Dennis McNally open for him. McNally was the long-time historian and publicist for the Grateful Dead who wrote the definitive biography of the band, “Long Strange Trip.”

There has been a long, psychic connection between the two bands that suddenly became more tangible last year when the Dead’s lyricist Robert Hunter began a songwriting collaborating with Payne.

When I interviewed Payne in December to advance Little Feat’s show at The Egg date I wrote, “Never as popular as the Dead, Little Feat is adored by critics and die-hard fans alike, and like the Dead, they retain their distinctive sound despite the comings and goings of various personnel. Payne and Hunter’s title track to Rooster Rag [Little Feat’s latest album] sounds like a logical extension of Payne’s ’70s anthem “Oh Atlanta,” and the band’s high energy eclecticism remains a West Coast answer to New Orleans gumbo.” At that time, Payne had written 13 songs with Hunter.

Recently, we reconnected for this interview:

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Bill Payne, What Was the First Album You Ever Bought?

January 3rd, 2013, 12:30 pm by Greg
Bill Payne

Bill Payne

“I don’t remember my first album, but I remember the first single that I ever had. It was ‘Hound Dog’ by Elvis on RCA, which my sister bought for me.

It was magical. The whole idea of it was magical.”

Co-founder of the band back in 1969, keyboardist-vocalist Bill Payne will lead Little Feat into The Egg in Albany at 8pm on Friday (January 4). Tickets are $34.50.

Paul Barrere, What Was the First Album That You Ever Bought?

August 2nd, 2011, 10:30 am by Greg

Paul Barrere

Paul Barrere

“I remember the first record I ever bought. I was 11 years old. I got on a bus and went down to Wallach’s Music City, which was at the corner of Sunset and Vine in Hollywood, California, and bought a 78 of ‘Tutti Frutti’ by Little Richard. I went home and just lost my mind.

I was fortunate enough to have two older brothers, so they got me into rock ‘n’ roll real early. When I was 11, it was 1959, and that stuff was really just starting out. The first stuff that I listened to was Fats Domino, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis, of course. That stuff just fascinated me.

Little Richard doing ‘Tutti Frutti’ was much more interesting than Pat Boone doing ‘Tutti Frutti.’ In fact, Little Richard doing ‘Tutti Frutti’ is probably more interesting than 95 percent of what’s out there today. When I hear the snare hit at the top of the song, I just go, ‘Holy mackerel!’ It’s got one of those infectious kinds of grooves.

The first albums that I bought were along the same lines … Fats Domino and Little Richard.”

Guitarist Paul Barrere and the rest of his bandmates in Little Feat will step into the spotlight at the Bearsville Theater in Woodstock at 8pm tonight. Tix are $65 for reserved balcony seating; $45 for general admission standing room.

This Week’s Hit Parade: Memorial Day Barbecue Soundtrack

May 25th, 2011, 1:38 pm by Sara

Come on! Memorial Day Weekend! Inter-league baseball! Hot-and-cold running playoff games! Indianapolis! Whatever NASCAR’s doing! Newt Gingrich on the run! Do you need MORE reasons to gather friends, break bread, crack a brew, and grill your nosh of choice? I didn’t think so! Here’s some more discs to improve relations with your neighbors:

“Volume 1: Frozen Ropes & Dying Quails”
(Yep Roc Records, 2008)
What do supergroups sing about in the 21st century? Baseball, that’s what! In all seriousness, the passion that went into the Baseball Project’s first disc (and into their latest disc “Vol. 2: High & Inside”) is the same kind of fervor you’ll find in any bleacher bum who’s lived with the game since he/she was in single digits. Their musical takes on Jackie Robinson, Satchel Paige and (above all) Ted Williams have such buoyancy and energy, you’ll be dancing and singing along even if you haven’t seen a baseball game in your life. Long live the Boys of Summer!

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Feats, Don’t Fail Me Now!

April 16th, 2010, 10:23 am by Greg

Levon Helm DrumkitFile this one under: Musicians Helping Musicians.

Richie Hayward, the longtime drummer with one of the funkiest rock bands on the planet – Little Feat – was recently diagnosed with liver cancer.

One of the fabulous folks coming to Hayward’s aid in his time of need is Woodstock’s own drum master, Levon Helm.

Helm is raffling off an autographed Yamaha Recording Custom 20th Anniversary Four-Piece Drum Set. The kit is owned and was played by Helm during the 1990s. According to Helm, “This drum kit is in excellent condition and comes with hardware, stands and cases.” And, yes, it’s autographed by Levon Helm.

Go to Levon Helm’s website for more info.

Only 500 raffle tickets are being offered at $250 each. And all proceeds will go directly to Richie Hayward.

Yeah, it’s a pricey raffle ticket. But the prize is priceless. And it’s all for a good cause. Raffle tickets are available online starting today (April 15). The winner will be drawn by Levon at his Midnight Ramble at 12midnight on Saturday, May 22.

If you know anyone who you think might be interested, please help spread the word.

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